"In Real Life" - Book Review

In Real Life
by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang
2014 - First Second books

I borrowed this from the library after it was recommended by "100 Greatest Graphic Novels: The Good, The Bad, The Epic." This had an immediate draw as I'm a fan of Cory Doctorow, one of Toronto's smartest exports. Cory lays it out in the written introduction: this is about gaming and economics. Rich North American kids and poor Chinese kids playing the same MMO for totally different reasons. Our main character is Anda, a 14 year old girl in Flagstaff, AZ, who goes on a few raids killing gold farmers, but eventually befriends one - and finds out that the money he makes in the game is what stands between him and a life of poverty.

Doctorow's best known (and best) book is Little Brother. Now he undoubtedly had an agenda when he wrote that: it's rabidly against Homeland Security and the paranoia that's infected the United States ever since September 11, 2001. But he had a full length book to fill out some really good characters and a very convincing story. But this time, he's got what amounts to perhaps 10 pages of prose (although the graphic novel is 175 pages), so he's laying it on thick to deliver the message. It's cute and not bad, but decidedly heavy-handed.

Jen Wang's artwork is really lovely, and would have really brought alive a less politically-driven message.